never again. no, really
Michael E. O'Hanlon is absolutely correct to call for a divisiondedicated to genocide intervention within the U.S. Armed Forces("The Ideal Army," January 1-15). There would definitely be apercentage of willing Americans from the idealistic and realisticDarfur advocate community who would volunteer for this justcause--including myself. Nevertheless, it is important not to jumpto U.S. military intervention as an immediate solution for Darfur.There are still several key steps the Bush administration must takebefore shipping troops to Africa. First, the president shouldcoordinate with the French to enforce a no- fly zone and preventthe gunships from carpet-bombing innocent civilians. Second, thepresident should commit to funding a 20,000-strong U.N. force, mostlikely comprising troops from African and South Asian countries.Third, the president should impose capital market sanctions to cutoff the credit line the Sudanese government is using to carry out agenocide. Americans must understand that it will requiresacrificing our lives and resources to truly make "never again" acommitment we can keep, instead of just an empty promise.
Genocide Intervention Network
rotten in denmark
Jonathan Cohn is correct that the example of Denmark gives the lieto the conservative claim that a society can have a generouswelfare system or prosperity, but not both ("Great Danes," January1-15). But Cohn fails to mention a major factor in Denmark'ssuccess. For most of its history, the Danish economy was burdenedby energy dependence, which limited industrial growth and imposed aperennial trade deficit. It is no coincidence that, as Denmark'seconomy began to take off in the 1980s and 1990s, Danish North Seagas and oil wells came online, making Denmark, for the first time,energy independent. While one can say that a business-friendlyenvironment has led to the creation of new wealth in Denmark, onemust also allow that the tremendous resource of North Sea gas andoil has increased Denmark's aggregate wealth, allowing the Danes topursue social and economic policies they could not otherwiseafford.
jack m. rice
Long Beach, California
Cohn glides quickly over the credibility problems in promotingDenmark as a neoliberal, utopian model for the United States. Hedescribes it as "a small, ethnically homogeneous country." To areader in the United States, which has a multiethnic population ofnearly 300 million, this sounds like Germany. But the population ofDenmark, unmentioned in the article, is approximately 5.5 million.You cannot extrapolate a country of only 5.5 million as a seriousmodel for the United States. Denmark is not a "large" welfarestate--because it is not a large state. There is no broad lessonhere. If we're going to look to puny countries for our utopianvision, let's also consider the city-state of Singapore. With apopulation of 4.5 million and a per capita GDP of $30,900 (versus$37,000 for Denmark), Singapore's unemployment was 3.1 percent in2006, with a growth rate of 7.4 percent. There's a 92.5 percentliteracy rate, home ownership is 91.7 percent, and the savings ratehas long been among the world's highest. And, unlike homogeneousDenmark, Singapore is successfully multiracial, with Indians andMalays living in harmony with the majority Chinese. Singaporeembraces capitalism. In contrast to Denmark's 68 percent top taxrate for individuals, Singapore's is only 21 percent, and thisdoesn't trigger until you make about $200,000. Corporate tax ratesare also low. Yet Singapore's policies ensure its citizens arewelleducated, own their own homes, and retire well. Alas, it is nota democracy, but a benevolent police state with no tolerance forpolitical dissent or for crime, drugs, and pornography. So one man'sutopia may be another man's hell. While I should think we couldlearn something from both Denmark and Singapore, I only say this tobe polite. I'd rather live in the United States, at least until webecome a dreary nanny state. Has Robert Rubin moved to Denmarkyet?
Los Angeles, California
jonathan cohn responds:
It's true Denmark has easy access to North Sea petroleum, but, ifthat disqualifies it from a discussion of successful economies,then the same should apply to other countries blessed with naturalresources--including the United States. It's also true that Denmarkis a small, homogeneous country, which is why I pointedly warnedreaders not to assume they could simply copy its economy here.Still, there's good reason to think that the broader lessons abouttaxes and the welfare state are independent of size, starting withthe fact that larger Scandinavian countries have adopted similarapproaches and achieved similar results. And you don't have to takemy word for it. Many highly respected economists, including a few Icited in my article, have reached the same conclusion.